Phosphine is a fumigant used in the UK for the control of burrow living vertebrates (rabbits, rats and moles) and a wide range of invertebrate pests, which infest stored food commodities. Phosphine’s high toxicity makes it the most toxic substance used for controlling pests in the UK and, quite rightly, deserves special attention to protect people and non-target species from malicious or irresponsible use, storage, transport and disposal. Pure phosphine is a highly toxic, colourless, tasteless and odourless gas applied as an easily handled solid known as Metal Phosphide. Aluminium phosphide and magnesium phosphide are the metallic phosphides used and these react with water vapour in the environment to generate the active ingredient phosphine (Hydrogen Phosphide). When freshly generated from solid formulations the resultant gas contains impurities (substituted phosphine and disulphide), which gives it a garlic type smell and can serve as a warning to its presence in the atmosphere at very low concentrations. Phosphine may also ignite in air at concentrations above 18,000 parts per million.
From 26th November 2015 users will no longer be able to buy or use this product unless they hold an accredited level 2 qualification in its use. If you have approved the use of a metallic phosphide on your land, please ensure you request a copy of your contractor’s level 2 qualification of competence before work commences.